By Tyler A. McNeil
21ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, has condemned a potential indictment of former President Donald Trump this week, related to a grand jury investigation of alleged hush money payments made on Trump’s behalf to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Stalwarts like Stefanik are rallying behind Trump while some critics of the 45th president are convinced that a potential arrest could build sympathy for him. Supporters are expected to protest the decision — something called on by Trump over his social media app Truth Social.
“This is unAmerican and the radical Left has reached a dangerous new low of Third World countries,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Knowing they cannot beat President Trump at the ballot box, the Radical Left will now follow the lead of Socialist dictators and reportedly arrest President Trump, the leading Republican candidate for President of the United States.”
Former two-time 20th Congressional District candidate Liz Joy in a tweet on Saturday predicted that the “corrupt political witch-hunt will end very badly.”
If indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Trump doesn’t plan to drop out of the presidential race. In fact, NBC News reported that Trump said at an event earlier this month that he could perform better under such circumstances.
Trump holds a 14-point lead over likely contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has yet to declare an intention to run in next year’s election, while trailing four points behind Democratic President Joe Biden, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley holds up at 5% and former Vice President Mike Pence, also undeclared, sits at 3%.
Locally, Saratoga County and Rensselaer County supported Trump in 2016, before flipping for Biden in 2020. Meanwhile, the Mohawk Valley has remained steadily red for the former reality television star.
Stefanik, who gained much of the valley last year through redistricting, in a statement likened the case to a three-year Russian collusion probe from in which special counsel prosecutor Robert Mueller found insufficient evidence to charge Trump with conspiracy in the 2016 election. The report, however, noted that the president’s campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
The current case has been handled under the lead of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg since 2021, when he took over a larger multi-pronged probe into the former president from his predecessor Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Trump has faced 20 beefy lawsuits and probes since leaving the Oval Office, exploring alleged violations of the Espionage Act, efforts to overturn the 2020 election and business malpractice directed by the Trump Organization.
“What these corrupt Leftist prosecutors like Alvin Bragg and their Socialist allies fail to understand is that America First Patriots have never been so energized to exercise their constitutional rights to peacefully organize and VOTE at the ballot box to save our great republic,” Stefanik said in a statement.
Once closely aligned with moderate rhetoric, self-proclaimed ultra-MAGA Stefanik has become a Trump loyalist since his presidency began in 2017. The then-president gave Stefanik his blessing to replace now-ousted Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney to become chair of the House Republican Conference, the third-ranking member of the party in the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2021.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, a critic of the former president, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
When asked if state police are preparing for protests or potential riots in Albany later this week, state police spokesperson Stephanie O’Neil said that officials are “aware of the situation and will continue to monitor.”
Albany police haven’t responded to a request for comment.